How you can become a "Response Ninja"
Updated: Aug 29
You've come to know me, and by now you know that inspired teaching is my jam. I get so pumped up knowing that there are actionable, specific techniques that educators and parents can say and do that will connect us to our kids. That core connection is at the heart of deep and meaningful learning – the kind of learning that can permanently change people's lives for the better.
So what are some of those techniques? There are 10 in total and I've dubbed them "Response Ninja" methods.
What is a "Response Ninja"?
It's building our students up, connecting to them, inspiring them... without them knowing it. When students speak and it's our turn to respond, what we say and how we say it are critical. Choose the wrong words or approach, and we shut them down.
Or, if we choose our words and responses wisely, then we increase their sense of confidence, their curiosity, and the security in themselves to experiment or make mistakes. Our words also have the power to unroot harmful narratives they've adopted, both about the act of learning, as well as of themselves.
The best part is that these strategies are all done "under the radar." We can say and do things that quietly uplift the learners in our midst, without them even being aware of what we're doing. Hence the term: "ninja." There's an art to inspiring others when we can do it subtly and implicitly.
The videos below cover the 10 "Response Ninja" methods. My gracious interviewer is visionary educator Roni Habib, founder of eqschools.com. Roni is an expert in helping leaders, educators, and parents become happier, more resilient, more connected to their purpose, and more playful.
First video, strategies 1–3:
1:05 "So you're saying that..." then "agreed." method
3:56 The "Are you sure?" method
7:36 The "WE" method
Second video, strategies 4–6:
0:19 The "Sarcasm is SO AWESOME" method. (As in, it's not.)
4:28 The "Do you speak body language?" method.
7:36 The "I see you, hear you, and know you" method. (Featuring me out on a baseball diamond for an 'in-field' demonstration.)
Third video, strategies 7–10:
0:07 The “NICE, now can you use the word ‘___’ in your answer?” method
3:33 The “Binary to Open-Ended Question Decision” method
7:20 The "Back to the Future" method
Important Context: I realize that in the midst of my and Roni's exchange, the deeper question for the "Back to the Future" method was not communicated. This is the idea for the Back to the Future method. Upon the student having a learning epiphany, the teacher is invited to say: "Nice work, Sarah. Now that you understand the subject, could you go back in time, let's say, 30 seconds ago, and explain to the Sarah of then what she doesn't understand, that you understand now?" The time travel exercise lets the student communicate directly to what she didn't understand previously. Now that she does understand, she can try to explain it in terms that makes sense to her now. The act makes the student aware of her own progress, in real time.
9:15 The "Who's in Control?" method
I hope you enjoy this 3-part series on how to implicitly empower our students, all done subliminally. Encouraging learners and building their inner-confidence is the recipe for magical, life-changing moments.
If you believe such values would positively benefit your faculty, you're invited to secure professional development for your school or conference. Both virtual and in-person visits are possible. The values I speak on are applicable to teachers of all subjects. Here are my overarching personal goals for in-service:
to get your teachers on cloud-9
to offer insights that synchronize teacher mindsets to students' needs
to lay out a clear process for how teachers can connect to students in deep and meaningful ways, which sets the vibe for inspired learning
If you'd like start a conversation to figure out what we can do together, kindly let me know through the short form at the bottom of yaymath.org/visit.
Congratulations to all of us, for navigating a year that none of us could ever fathom.